Monday, September 23, 2013
Betty Makoni goes Native (Native Informant, that is) in a Blood Libel by a British Newspaper
On Thursday the 19th of September, British newspaper, Metro, ran a feature on Makoni's new crusade. (Read the article here) I saw the article the following day as the word spread across social media. Like any intelligent person, I was shocked. Not as much by what Betty Makoni is quoted as having said, but that a newspaper would publish her story without verifying her claims.
"When Betty Makoni fled Zimbabwe for the safety of Essex five years ago, she came in fear of her life.
The women’s rights campaigner was chased out of Africa by a gang of masked men armed with axes and machetes who were threatening to kill her for ‘causing them problems’ by demanding justice for child rape victims."
This is not what Betty herself has said about her migration from Zimbabwe. Just yesterday, I saw her comments on Baba Jukwa's Facebook page where she states that she is not an asylum seeker, but came to the UK on her husband's work permit. They had also lived in Botswana. It is aired in the media that Makoni and her family left Zimbabwe for Botswana after donors began to query the appropriation of their funding by her. Metro could have easily checked and found that Makoni's claim that she fled from Zimbabwe was considerably sexed up. Here is one story about Makoni where it states quite clearly that she left Zimbabwe in 2008, and stayed in Botswana for a while in what is known as "self-imposed exile"
During her illustrious career in Zimbabwe as an activist, she was often pictured in the company of police as she took them to households she believed were the scene of violations of the country's laws on child-marriage and other social evils. National newspapers in Zimbabwe would be more than happy to produce these. No doubt the police will have records of the times they acted on Betty Makoni's information and arrested paedophiles. Yet Metro accepted without question her claim that was chased out of the country by a gang of masked men armed with axes and machetes. The way she tells it, you can run from armed masked men straight in to an aeroplane and fly off to the safety of Britain.
However, what really shocked and angered many people was the following:
"Makoni was a victim of another form of genital mutilation – labia elongation – as a child. Instead of cutting the genitals out, she says the ‘whole private parts are pulled out’.
‘It can take up to six months and is as painful as cutting,’ she says. ‘It is about changing your sexual organs to please men. Either a woman does it, or the girl is trained to do it herself. It is like forcing a child to masturbate. Labia elongation is rampant here with African girls."
Really, Betty? For many Zimbabweans, this was the first time hearing that FGM is rampant in our nation. Some saw the funny side, a crazy Zimbabwean woman mugging the British by playing on their prejudices about Africa. Most did not. Most have felt outraged that such a terrible thing could be said of Zimbabweans by a compatriot so desperate to get some of that Anti-FGM Campaign money.
I wrote: "How easy it is to deceive well-meaning but ignorant British people about the facts of life in African societies. I will refrain from commenting on FGM in general, as this mostly prevalent in African societies outside of my own (Africa is not a country!!!) But I challenge Makoni on labia elongation and call her an outright liar. Many Southern African women have naturally elongated labia, a genetic trait of the Khoisan people. This feature is known as Sinus pudoris or macronympha. It can occur naturally, but some women will pull their own labia as this actually considered a desirable trait in a woman. Nothing is "pulled right out" as Makoni claims. In fact, there is a crude expression that can be translated as "you think you have big labia?" to mean a woman who is getting cocky which is the equivalent of a man being asked if he has balls.
Of the women I have encountered from Southern Africa, I cannot tell who had naturally elongated labia or pulled them herself. It is not considered polite to ask something so personal. I doubt that you will get a Southern African woman to talk freely about this aspect of her body and sexual identity. When Saartjie Bartmann (the so-called Hottentot Venus) was being exhibited like a zoo animal on the streets of London from 1810 onwards, she endured every other degradation but refused to show her sexual organs to the gawking public. When she died, her sexual organs were put in a glass jar and exhibited in a museum.
Your reporter merits censure for not doing their research before publishing yet another lurid distortion that serves no purpose at all except perpetuate the Blood Libel against African people as a whole.
Reply · 7 · Like · Unfollow Post · September 20 at 9:27am"
I was the first person to object to these comments on the Metro website. I also fired off an e-mail to the editor. Before my comment, delivered via my facebook profile, she had had two of her praise singers gush the usual drivel. A few hours later, Vio-Mak (yes, someone actually goes by that name) lept in. As you all know, there is no love lost between me and Vio-Mak. In fact, much of the falling out has to do with me challenging the claims made by Betty Makoni about Zimbabwean culture and questioning her sincerity. At that time, Vio-Mak was an ally of Makoni. She even wrote and published a song of tribute to Makoni, which can be viewed here . Betty gushed back that the song made her cry. However, they must have had a falling out and even though she had appeared on SW RadioAfrica to refute accusations that Makoni had solicited donations for a girl called Taremedzwa Mapungwana but kept the money for herself, Vio-Mak began to publish on her website and facebook pages that Makoni had indeed misappropriated donor funds. Vio-Mak repeated these same claims on the Metro site. So the two of us, Vio-Mak and myself were the first to get a reaction from Makoni. By the way, during the height of their alliance, I also fell foul of Vio-Mak and was branded a "Mugabe CIO", so there is little love lost between myself and her.
Does anyone need me to point out that Nomsa Thomson is a fake profile? Does anyone need me to point out too that it belongs to no other than Betty Makoni herself. For some really strange reason, she spent much of the weekend being this Nomsa Thomson, copying and pasting the same threats and accusations. Basically, those of us who challenged her claims on labia elongation, are agents of Mugabe, who have been plotting to kill her. Until Metro takes it down, you can read the messages yourself. I have taken screenshots for when I go to the police about defamation charges (as Nomsa Thomson she claims to have met me at an event in London two weeks ago and that I obtained asylum in the UK by lying and that I am really an agent for Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation)
It is really tragic that Makoni has to resort to be someone else and do her own defence, as no one appeared willing to intervene on her behalf. The aforementioned Vio-Mak being one such person who has retired from the post of Chief Slobbering Troll. It is also really tragic to note that she was up all night being this Nomsa Thomson. The simpler option would be to seek to have the record set straight with the Metro. But not for Betty, she kept up the story that Zimbabweans engage in FGM. The following is from her wall:
Muzvare Betty Makoni
Now this is what happened when I was 8. Four women would call us to a room at around 6 am. As we entered the room they had a jar of cooking oil. Then to start was a girl from next door aged 6. She would be asked to take off her pantie and she obliged but with her little mass of her body shaking. Then next I saw one of the women dipping her hand in black stuff mixed cooking oil called pfuta-they roasted a black wild fruit like and ground it into powder. Two women pulled her two hands so that the little one does not cause disturbances because once they get hold of the labia they want to pull it out for a long time. The little girl groaned and cried and as I watched I just said not on me. And to watch a friend naked and crying was heart breaking. For some reason the women came to me last because I would fight very hard. It was very hard to pull my labia because the first thing is I cried until different sticks broke on my body. They did all this so that when we get married we please our husbands. Pulling labia had a big network of women who were full time experts. Experts who inflict such pain on little girls ....no educational experts at all. "
The picture of what she claimed was the procedure being done has been removed since Saturday evening. I pointed out when I first saw it that the same picture appears elsewhere on the net and is captioned as depicting a virginity test. Moreover, that is clearly not depicting an occurance in Zimbabwe. Others joined in, demanding to know why she was lying. However, she has remained relentless in not only claiming that FGM occurs in Zimbabwe, but that those of us who refute this claim are agents of Robert Mugabe's regime bent on silencing her.
This poster is misleading, as labia elongation was reclassified by the World Health Organisation in 2008 from its previous status as Type IV.
What has upset me the most is the conduct of Metro. A simple check on the internet would have cast doubt on everything Betty Makoni said about herself and Zimbabwean culture. Quite clearly, Metro acted outside of the EDITORS' CODE. From the way this article was written, you'd be surprised to discover that there is such a thing as an Editor's Code in British print journalism. I am convinced that the reason no attempt was made at verifying Makoni's statements is because this was a story about Africans.
Makoni played the role of the Native Informant. She is the only "authority" on the story and her only pretension to such authority is that she is a Black African woman, a Zimbabwean at that. So, if a Black Zimbabwean woman said that she had "everything pulled out", this becomes a fact. Journalists who would dimiss testimonies of alien abduction or participation in Satanic rituals with world leaders and reptilian shape-shifters accept tabula rasa any story that ins consistent with the popular image of African men as rapists and mysogynists. This is why I denounce the article in the Metro as a Blood Libel.
Betty Makoni imagines that she is ascending in the world. Her rants as Nomsa Thomson refer constantly to her being "known all over the world" for her activism. How delusional can a grown woman get! She actually thinks she is some sort of active ingredient in this Blood Libel. She actually thinks that she is the one who sat down to tell the story. No, you stupid woman. You are being used to legitimise the slandering of a whole nation. British media could never pull off such a story on without being branded racists. So, they get someone from the culture they wish to publish lies about so that when there is public outrage, they can always bring her out and say, "She said it, not us, we just report it!" Poor Betty, and you think you are some sort of hero! Do you think that when they decide to implement any sort of socio-economic programme for the "Girl Child" in Zimbabwe, they will actually seek your advice? No, but knowing that you will do it, they will roll you out again whenever they need local validation. Simply put, Betty is neither the male or the female in this little fuckfest: she is the condom. And like any old condom, she will be disposed off as soon as people are done. Whether they will do it again, whether they will have a wedding and after that a mortgage and kids, none of that matters; the condom will, being made of latex, have mostly decomposed anyway.
The harm of such stories has already begun to be felt. I have heard of a Zimbabwean man who was interrogated by police. An "expert" at his daughter's school had noticed that she did not have eye-contact with him, behaviour reputedly associated with child-sexual abuse. In our culture, of course, direct eye-contact is considered disrespect to one's elders. Another story that has been aired on social media involved accusation of Female Genital Mutilation because the girl in question had...... elongated labia. Some of you may remember similar stories of the savagery of Nigerians because of singer Seal's scars, which actually come from a medical condition he had.
Makoni has been very busy peddling such stories. They make British people feel obligated to help out, and the donations pour in. British people must be incredibly stupid to believe that rape and abuse of women is worse in Zimbabwe than anywhere else in the world. How else can you explain the ready credulity?
I am also reminded of a murder/child rape case that occurred recently in New Zealand, involving a Zimbabwean family. Based on what was aired about the case, I am convinced that the charges of rape and murder were made against Mr Gwaze because he was from Zimbabwe, and people like Betty Makoni have actively supported racist notions about the behaviour of Zimbabwean men. In fact, police said that they had been "briefed on African beliefs about sex". Notice how African and Zimbabwean as adjectives are interchangeable. Africa is a country to these people. On such a bleak, featureless landscape, there is no time and space and location. It is all the same.
Such an environment, as sterile as it is, makes optimal breeding ground for maggots like Betty Makoni.
Many Zimbabweans have started to engage the Metro over the article. We will knock on every door until we get a retraction. That would be the decent thing for them to do. I am surprised however at the failure of many more Zimbabweans to take action. This is probably why Metro thought they would get away with it in the first place.